'We're just blessed': Rose Sisters Chips expands during pandemic

Ann and Paula, of Rose Sisters Chips.

Ann and Paula, of Rose Sisters Chips.

Contributed photo /

FAIRFIELD — Throughout the last year, the Covid-19 pandemic caused many industries to come to a complete halt and countless family-owned businesses struggled to make it through.

Despite the world shutdown, one family-owned business was not only able to survive the pandemic, but they were actually able to grow at a time that seemed unlikely to most.

Rose Sisters Chips, of Bridgeport, has been named a top 10 semi-finalist in The UPS Store Virtual 2021 Small Biz Challenge, a national competition sponsored by The UPS Store and Inc. Magazine. The competition provides a platform for small business owners to share how they persisted through the last year’s challenges for a chance to win up to $25,000. People can vote through Inc. Magazine’s website until July 5.

“We are honored, humbled and beyond excited to be a semi-finalist alongside a group of very impressive companies and founders,” said Jonathan Marcus, co-founder of Rose Sisters Chips and the son of the older Rose sister, Ann. “As a 2.5-year-old company, the last year hit us particularly hard. We’re excited to tell our story about how we grew during trying times as well as to learn from others’ experiences.”

Like most companies, the Fairfield native Marcus, found himself in a tough situation when trying to navigate through the pandemic. The chip business typically operated through wholesale channels, but when the pandemic hit, the distribution trucks stopped moving food and switched to transporting hospital equipment. The Rose Family needed a new plan

With all of their orders essentially stopping and sitting within the warehouse, Marcus and the company came up with two monumental ideas. First, the team had to find new streams of business and second, reach their customers directly.

“Being a year-and-a-half old company, we had to do something. We couldn’t sit and wait for the word to open up again,” Marcus said.

“With all of the food shows canceled, which are the major source of new opportunity, we had to find a way to reach out to anyone who would have gone to those food shows,” he added. “We had to tell them that we have product and if anyone wanted to try it to let us know and we would ship out the products.”

Marcus said the plan was “immensely successful.”

The company set up an “email blast” and reached out to nearly 30,000 people. The family was able to get back about 500 responses, a small percentage, however the responses converted into new sale brokers, distributors and new retail markets.

“It was awesome like a really fantastic impact,” Marcus said.

The second half of the plan consisted of directly reaching out to their customers.

“People can buy our chips on our website, but we never really did a proactive push to promote and we thought this was a great opportunity to try it,” Marcus said.

The family decided to a campaign with GoodMorningAmerica.com. This plan proved to be even more impactful than the first idea. The company made more in three and a half weeks of the campaign than what it had in the previous two years.

The campaign got the brand out to the public and created a lot buzz surrounding the Rose family chips.

“It just changed the acceleration of our company,” Marcus said. “I mean we’re just blessed. There’s no two ways to say it other than that. We know a lot of companies struggled and unfortunately didn’t make it, but as far as us, we were not only able to stable the water, but ended up growing. We just know that we are very very fortunate.”

Marcus said that perhaps the biggest lesson learned over the past year is to always try new things.

“The main thing is that you have to try new channels that maybe you wouldn’t have thought of previously,” he said. “Its just a time where sitting by idle is not going to work. You just have to try new channels. Give it a try. There’s always a risk to it, but it was an unusual circumstance and you just have to try unusual new things.”